Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Liane Young

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Expanding Empathy Lecture Series: Liane Young

Lecture title: "Social Context Shapes Social Cognition"

Abstract: As social creatures, we spend a lot of time thinking about the mental lives of those around us, both for social interaction and for moral evaluation. My talk today will explore the broad question of how social context shapes these processes, from a social neuroscience perspective. First, how is theory of mind (i.e., thinking about mental states) deployed for cooperation vs. competition, understanding helpful vs. harmful actions? Does mental state representation differ across social contexts? Second, how does mental state inference support the processing of social prediction error and moral updating, for helpful vs. harmful agents, friends vs. strangers? We will look at whether asymmetries in moral updating (e.g., for friends vs. strangers) can be diagnosed as motivated or rational inference. Finally, we will turn to the question of how people evaluate others who treat close vs. distant targets (e.g., family vs. strangers) differently, and the role of obligation in moral character judgments. Overall, we will see that social context shapes how we think about other minds, how we form and update moral impressions, and how we evaluate obligation. 

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Virtual Event